Acrylic Painted Smiles

Pairing: Spamano (Spain x S. Italy [Romano]/ Antonio Fernandez Carriedo x Lovino Vargas)

Setting: Sicily, Italy

Genre: Romance, Drama, Crime

Chapter One

He had never really been good at anything. Well, that wasn't true. He was one hell of a cook. He would always be, however, in the shadow of his younger brother's wondrous feats. No matter what he did, no matter how hard he tried, his brother would always be twice as good. That was how it was, and how it always would be.

With a twinge of irritation, Romano closed the thick volume he had in his hands as he glared at his younger brother in the garden. Feliciano was painting again, which was a constant source of vexation for the elder Vargas. Everybody knew Feliciano was the more skilled, so why did he have to continue to upstage Romano so obviously. The elder brother knew that Feliciano was not entirely at fault, however. The younger Vargas was too airheaded to know the pressures and expectations he was placing on Romano's shoulders.

From the windowsill of which he sat, Romano watched as his younger brother casually began talking with one of the many guards that surrounded the gardens. Romano rolled his eyes. "Idiot," he whispered. How many times had he been told not to distract them? In more ways than one, Romano felt sorry for Feliciano's bodyguards. Here they were trying to be serious, and his younger brother's cheerfulness overwhelmed them every single time.

Romano could hear rushed footsteps on marble floors. Practically everything at the Vargas Estate was made of marble, so echoing was a major problem. One always had to make sure they spoke softly, or their secrets might carry all the way to the other side of the mansion.

"Master Lovino," said a gruff voice. The elder Vargas brother didn't bother looking away from the window. He knew, despite the rush in the guard's words, that there was no actual emergency. All guards sounded rushed and to the point, so Romano had learned not to worry.

"What is it?" snapped Romano.

"Your grandfather would like to see you in his study, sir."

"Very well," the young Italian nodded as he stood up. He left the book on the sill, intending to come back and finish off the last few chapters.

He walked briskly; despite the fact that he knew there was no urgency. Grandfather did not enjoy being kept waiting. In contrast to his old age, he was actually as impatient as a child.

Romano weaved left, then right, and then right again. The massive mansion would have been a death-trap to any stranger who had entered, but he had memorized the network of halls since his early childhood. It was not that the Vargas family enjoyed complicated and luxurious designs, but because they were on the defensive, that they had such a confusing hallway system.

Everything about the Vargas Estate had revolved around military advantage. They were situated at the top of a steep hill for tactical purposes, they were perfectly placed between the sea and the mountains for quick escape, and the halls had been designed to confuse any intruders the moment they stepped inside. A stranger might wonder what they were trying to hide from, but nobody really knew, save the locals of the area who were too fearful to say either way.

They were the Mafia.

"Fratello," said Feliciano. He had approached from the end of the other hall. "Did Grandpapa want to see you, too?"

"What does it look like?" frowned Romano.

Romano knocked on the door of the study. The door was open, of course, but there were certain protocols that even he had to follow. He may have been the second most powerful person in the Estate, but his rights were severely less than his grandfather.

"Come in," came his grandfather's sing-song voice. He sounded far too chipper for a Mafia boss.

Romano and his younger brother stepped into the study but remained by the doorway when they saw two strangers seated in front of his grandfather. One man had broad shoulders, blonde hair, and piercing blue eyes that were so clear they were like water. The other was olive skinned with dark brown hair and eyes that were a beautiful green. They were not of an overbearing hue like emeralds, but something that was perfectly dull and warm. This one was smiling.

"Lovino, Feliciano," said their grandfather. "I would like to introduce you to Ludwig Beilshmidt and Antonio Fernandez Carriedo." Romano could tell they were foreigners, but why were they here?

"Bonjourno," smiled Feliciano.

"Bonjourno," replied the large blonde. His accent was thick, and his word was hesitant.

"I'm afraid the both of them speak little Italian, Feli," explained Grandpa Rome.

"Then what they hell are these bastards doing here?" snapped Romano with a frown. Rome only chuckled. His eldest grandson had always had quite the temper.

"The family business here in Italy is being threatened," said their grandfather, suddenly serious. "As of late, our enterprise has been…" he searched for the correct word. "They have been dwindling. I cannot guarantee your safety here at the Estate anymore."

"What do you mean, Grandpapa?" asked Feliciano, obviously a little oblivious.

"What's going on?" added Romano.

"It had come to my attention that Italy may no longer be safe enough for the Vargas family. I have called on Ludwig and Antonio to act as…" he searched again. "Escorts, I suppose, for the both of you out of the country."

"We're going on a trip?" said Feliciano, wide-eyed with surprise. For his tender age of eighteen years, he was just as foolish of a child of only ten.

"Idiot," exclaimed Romano. "We're not going on a trip. We're running. I don't understand Grandpapa. We're Vargas. We never run."

"I know," his grandfather nodded sadly. "But you must understand that the situation is far more delicate than it should be. This will only be a temporary arrangement until I can stabilize the situation here."

"To hell with that," growled Romano. "I'm not a child anymore, Grandpapa. I can help. Send Feli away, not me."

"You are the heir to the Vargas family. If anything, you should be the first to get away. Do not underestimate the power of being the first born," snapped their grandfather.

Romano held his tongue. It was true. The Vargas enterprise was indeed being threatened. The political system was somewhat unstable due to the upcoming elections, the police were actually becoming more effective, and more and more rival clans seemed to be popping up out of nowhere. There had been more than ten drive-by shootings in the past three months, the streets were no longer safe because of turf wars, and high-ranking members of the Vargas were dropping like flies. It was only about time that a full-scale attack would come raining down on them.

"At least tell me why you're splitting us up," said Romano in a low voice.

"What do you mean?" frowned Feliciano, suddenly concerned.

"These 'escorts'… They are not from the same country, which means Grandpapa intends for us to go separately."

"Hot-tempered but observant," nodded Rome in approval. "If somebody indeed follows you, at least they will not be able to get you both at the same time. It's a security measure. Besides, everybody knows that there are two of you. It'll be obvious you are who you are if they spot two Italians crossing the border. Feliciano, you will be going to Germany with Ludwig. Lovino, you will be going to Spain with Antonio."

"Spain?" scoffed the elder brother. "Why Spain?"

"It's far away, but close enough to bring you back to Italy when the time comes. It's really for the best, Lovi."

"When must we leave?"


Author's Note:

Buenos días mis corazones. ¿Cómo están ustedes?

I am so happy with how this story has taken off. Thank you all for reviewing. Make sure to tell all your friends! The update is coming really soon, so please look forward to it!

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